June 2024

Lambing finished quietly at the end of April, with over 90% within the first cycle which is consistent with previous years. Lambing through April this year helped us avoid the horrors witnessed by so many others lambing through this extreme wet spring. Swamp was a common discretion of people’s experiences almost everywhere. Additionally, we luckily had no cases of Schmallenberg or any abortive cases. We do vaccinate for Toxoplasmosis. Our vets recall a horrendous lambing year (and calvings), particularly up in the hills.

Our hogs were sheared in the first week of May and to my surprise were in really good condition, probably some of the best we have seen at this stage. I was expecting the extreme weather to have knocked them back.

We will be retaining more shearlings for ourselves this year than normal, so will only have around 140 to sell this summer. Shearling tups have also come through the winter in very good shape. You will be aware that as always, they will never have seen corn or buckets. Just grass. These animals will have EBVs primarily in Top 5%-10%. 2 are Top 1%. The list will shortly be published – 11 registered tups 2 not registered. The latter 2 in hindsight probably should have been registered as there is no significant difference from the others.

Looking back to the autumn we again participated in the ongoing research project into the heritability to worm resistance, now primarily via Serum IgA analysis. The latest analysis of everybody’s comingled data has indicated that IgA saliva has not shown the level of heritability that we originally all thought would be the case. Like so much research, there are dead ends and then new openings. Serum IgA (via blood) is showing an impressive 35-40% heritability. (Now year 3). In addition, last autumn we were part of a small group also involved in analysing methane output per animal in conjunction with DNA analysis and the Serum IgAs and FECs. It is worth noting that our small group of farmers that make up the Performance Recorded Lleyn Breeders now have more data across a wider range of categories than any other group of farmers in the UK and have now been invited to become part of FACCE ERA-GAS, the pan European consortium monitoring methane and carbon.  The agricultural sector in Europe faces significant challenges in curbing GHG emissions while maintaining food security and sustainability in a changing climate. EU policy proposals requiring a 40% reduction in emissions without a corresponding decrease in primary production pose significant challenges, could very easily also become a UK target. For the UK, DEFRA is part of this consortium.

If you are interested in stock from either of our shearling groups, please give me a call. Videos are also available if that helps.